The show bout between boxing icons Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. was tied as the two fighters met in Los Angeles for a fun, if predictable, clash.
With a combined age of 105, Tyson and Jones Jr were unlikely to produce anything like the fireworks of their prime, but both men put on a passable show in eight two-minute rounds at the Staples Center.
By the time the bouts ended, both men looked exhausted after a bout where great spells were spent in a clinch, but Tyson in particular showed some flashes of his one-time brilliance and seemed to do the sharper job throughout the competition.
Under the rules of the bout approved by the California State Athletic Commission, no winner was announced in the ring, but a jury gathered outside the arena by the WBC announced that it would be a tie.
Tyson, who stepped between the ropes to start for the first time since 2005, was pleased with the result – while Jones praised his boxing icon but said he had done enough to be declared the winner.
Anyone who would have expected something like earlier success from the two fighters would inevitably have been disappointed with the competition, the anticipation of which was fueled by promoters with pay-per-views for sale and by the fighters themselves with their steady stream of short, slick clips was on social media showing bursts of her supposedly enduring speed and power.
That was content made for the social media age, but it was probably always a much bigger challenge to turn it into a longer contest – if only in eight shortened rounds.
The 54-year-old former heavyweight champion, Tyson, and former four-weight world champion, Jones Jr., 51, fought admirably with enough insight into the action to keep fans happy, but mostly at a predictable pace.
Before the fight, there had been a lot of confusion about what exactly the rules were and whether knockout games would be allowed, but Tyson in particular looked like he was pushing for victory and possibly a fan-friendly ending.
The fighter, once dubbed “the worst man on the planet,” was a sight to behold in his famous black shorts, and most observers would have picked him as their winner because he looked more lively and did the sharper work in the eight rounds .
Jones Jr., who holds dual American and Russian citizenship, seemed happier with getting Tyson up the pace and did most of his work remotely.
TYSON SHOWS FLASHES OF FORMER GLORY
From the first round, Tyson showed his distinctive head movement and landed a firm left hook, although Jones Jr. was unshaken.
Jones Jr. hit the road early and seemed more content to do his job remotely and use his left thrust.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, from the second round onwards, the couple searched hard for big spells to take a breather.
Tyson showed his own zeal, landing a body shot after the bell went off at the end of the second round, but any animosity or malicious intent was soon defused when the couple hugged.
Tyson continued to look the sharper man through the middle laps and landed some clean punches, but he clearly lacked the strength with which they were once loaded.
Iron Mike tried to train the body on lap four and looked like he was pushing for victory. At the end of the fifth stanza he also combined with some good punches.
The former heavyweight king started on his feet in the sixth round and tried again to pick up the pace, but Jones was again more cautious and in line with the exhibition nature of the fight.
The 51-year-old has picked up on the last two rounds but there has never been any sign of the fireworks some fans have been craving.
REMATCH ON THE MAPS?
Tyson said afterward that he hoped it wouldn’t be a one-off comeback for him.
“Yeah, but I’m good with a tie because I entertained the crowd, the Crow was happy with that,” he said.
“I’m used to doing it for three minutes, sometimes two or three minutes.
“I was very happy to be here, although everyone says I was happy to do eight laps.
“Nobody thought I could do eight laps, but you have to go the distance, that’s boxing.”
Jones Jr. praised Tyson and also hinted at a possible rematch.
“We have to do this all over again, everyone loves Mike, I love Mike too, but it’s something else that takes Mike’s blows,” said Jones Jr., who only announced his 75-fight career in 2018.
“I’ll talk to my family, see how they feel about it, and if they want to do it again, we will do it again,” he added.
Most boxing fans by now will likely have contented themselves with viewing this as a one-off spectacle and will simply be delighted that both of them showed up in good health – and their bank balances increased.